This is a story about how I managed to free myself from a distressing condition called bruxism and stopped my teeth from shifting, all without the need for a retainer. It wasn’t an overnight miracle, but a series of small changes that brought about this tremendous impact.
Understanding Bruxism and Teeth Shifting
Before we delve into the remedies, it’s crucial to understand what bruxism is. Bruxism refers to the habit of grinding, gnashing, or clenching your teeth. This might happen either when you’re awake (awake bruxism) or asleep (sleep bruxism).
Common causes of bruxism range from stress, anxiety, an abnormal bite, and missing or crooked teeth to sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. Teeth shifting, on the other hand, is a slow process of teeth moving out of their intended position, often leading to crowding, rotations, or gaps between the teeth. It is typically caused by physiological changes, gum disease, bruxism, or poor oral habits.
Additionally, an intriguing theory attributes teeth shifting to weak jaws resulting from not using them as our ancestors did. They munched on harder and unprocessed foods, which, quite likely, kept their jaws stronger and teeth well-spaced.
1. Using Magnesium Supplementation for Bruxism and Preventing Teeth From Shifting
As I dove deeper into my issues, I discovered that most people in the world have a significant mineral deficiency: magnesium. Minerals are essential for various bodily functions, including those of the nervous system. A deficiency of magnesium, a vital mineral for nerve function and muscle relaxation, was likely contributing to my bruxism and teeth shifting.
To address this, I started supplementing magnesium, specifically Magnesium Glycinate. And, what a difference it made! I started noticing a decline in my nighttime teeth-grinding habit, and my teeth seemed to stay in place better than before. My bruxism has completely disappeared.
Other Supplements for Bruxism and Teeth Grinding
Besides magnesium, you can also try introducing several other supplements into your sleep regimen. These include apigenin, a plant compound known for its calming effects; GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps alleviate anxiety; ashwagandha, an adaptogen that helps manage stress and anxiety; and lemon balm extract, known for promoting mental and emotional well-being.
Together, these supplements seem to work wonders in lowering anxiety levels, enhancing sleep quality, and potentially reducing nocturnal bruxism.
2. Mewing for Bruxism, Teeth Shifting. Tongue Posture, & Facial Structure
Next, I learned about ‘mewing,’ an orthotropics technique developed by Dr. John Mew that involves the correct positioning of the tongue against the roof of the mouth. By practicing mewing, I was working on my oral posture, essentially training my tongue and facial muscles. This, in turn, helped maintain the alignment of my teeth and reduced the strain on my jaw, which might have been contributing to my bruxism.
Delving Deeper into Mewing
Mewing, named after British orthodontist Dr. John Mew, is more than just a technique; it’s a philosophy that challenges traditional orthodontics’ reactive approach. Rather than waiting for problems to appear and then addressing them (often invasively), mewing seeks to guide the growth of the face in a natural, healthy direction from a young age.
Mewing is centered around the concept of proper tongue posture. Dr. Mew posited that maintaining the entire tongue (not just the tip) against the roof of the mouth when the mouth is closed helps to shape the development of the face and jaws. This position encourages forward growth of the maxilla (upper jaw), leading to well-defined facial features, better breathing, improved alignment of the teeth, and a decreased likelihood of developing disorders like sleep apnea and TMJ dysfunction.
Mewing goes beyond just the act of pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth. It is part of a more holistic approach known as ‘Orthotropics,’ which emphasizes proper oral posture (mouth closed with teeth lightly touching), correct swallowing pattern (without engaging facial muscles), and nasal breathing.
It might seem unusual that something as simple as tongue posture could influence facial structure and dental health, but it ties back to a fundamental principle of physiology: form follows function. The way we use our muscles and bones influences their development. Therefore, maintaining the proper position and function of the tongue, jaw, and facial muscles could help prevent problems such as misaligned teeth and bruxism.
My Experience with Mewing
As I delved deeper into mewing, it felt like I was rediscovering a forgotten natural posture. I started practicing mewing and became more conscious of my oral posture throughout the day. Initially, it felt a bit odd and took a conscious effort, but over time, it started becoming second nature.
Mewing seemed to have a cascading effect on my oral health. My jaw felt more relaxed, and the instances of nocturnal teeth grinding started to decrease. With consistent practice, I noticed a significant improvement in my facial structure and a noticeable halt in the shifting of my teeth. My breathing patterns improved, and my sleep quality increased, indirectly helping in managing bruxism.
Like every technique or habit, mewing requires patience and consistency. It’s not an overnight solution but a gradual process. By restoring natural function and improving oral and facial posture, mewing offers a preventative and sustainable approach to oral health.
For anyone considering mewing, remember it’s essential to do your research, start slow, and consider seeking advice from a healthcare professional or an orthodontist experienced with the technique. While it is a relatively safe practice, individual variations in anatomy and oral health mean that what works for one person may not work for another. My journey with mewing has been transformative, but it’s important to remember we each have our unique paths to better oral health.
3. How Nose Breathing Can Improve Sleep Quality and Prevent Further Teeth Shifting
One of the fundamental aspects of our health that often goes unnoticed is the way we breathe. Breathing is such an automatic, second-nature process that we hardly ever think about it, let alone consider altering our habits. However, switching from mouth breathing to nose breathing was, for me, a game changer in my journey towards improving my overall health, including my struggle with bruxism and teeth shifting.
Understanding the Significance of Nose Breathing
Nose breathing, in contrast to mouth breathing, plays a significant role in maintaining optimal health. The nose acts as a natural filter, warming and humidifying the air we inhale, reducing the risk of contaminants reaching our lungs.
When we breathe through our nose, we stimulate the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that plays a crucial role in our body’s functioning. Nitric oxide enhances oxygen absorption in the lungs, supports the immune system, and helps maintain heart health, among other benefits.
Furthermore, nose breathing helps to regulate our breathing rate and volume, which, in turn, can lead to better oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange and reduce the likelihood of overbreathing, a common issue in those with anxiety disorders.
Nose Breathing and its Impact on Oral Health
But what does nose breathing have to do with bruxism and teeth shifting? Quite a lot, it turns out.
First, nose breathing encourages better tongue posture. When we breathe through our nose, our tongue naturally rests on the roof of the mouth, which, as we learned from mewing, promotes better teeth alignment and jaw health.
Secondly, nose breathing can aid in managing sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, which are commonly associated with bruxism. It promotes deep, restorative sleep, helping us wake up feeling more refreshed and less likely to have spent the night grinding our teeth.
Lastly, by maintaining a closed-mouth posture that nose breathing requires, we may prevent dry mouth, a condition often seen in mouth breathers. Dry mouth can lead to gum disease and other oral health problems that can exacerbate teeth shifting.
My Personal Experience with Nose Breathing
Switching to nose breathing was a mindful practice. Initially, it took conscious effort, especially during activities like exercising, when mouth breathing is often the default. However, over time, nose breathing became my new norm, and the benefits started to unfold.
Not only did I feel more energized and focused during the day, but my sleep improved significantly. I began waking up feeling more rested, without the previous signs of teeth grinding that had been so commonplace.
Simultaneously, I noticed that my oral health seemed to improve. My tongue naturally maintained the correct posture on the roof of my mouth, which aided in my mewing practice. I also experienced fewer gum problems and realized that my teeth had stopped shifting further.
Switching to nose breathing might seem like a minor adjustment, but its benefits are far-reaching. It’s a natural, simple, yet powerful tool that has been instrumental in my journey to cure bruxism and halt teeth shifting. As with any new habit, it takes time and patience, but the improvements to overall health make it well worth the effort.
4. Strengthening My Jaw with Chewing Devices
Recalling the theory about weak jaws leading to teeth shifting, I introduced jaw-chewing devices into my routine. For at least an hour a day, I used these devices, mimicking our ancestors’ eating habits. This helped strengthen my jaw muscles, reducing the chances of my teeth shifting due to a weak jaw.
5. Exercise: The Body-Mind Connection
We’ve all heard about the benefits of regular exercise for overall well-being. I made it a point to incorporate physical activity into my daily routine, which helped release tension from my muscles, including those of my jaw and face. This reduction in tension might have indirectly aided in lessening my bruxism.
6. The Impact of Recreational Drugs and Alcohol on Bruxism and Teeth Shifting
We’re all aware that recreational drugs and alcohol can take a toll on our health in numerous ways. However, it’s less commonly understood how these substances can contribute to dental issues like bruxism and teeth shifting. As part of my journey towards better oral health, I made the conscious decision to quit recreational drugs and drinking. Here, I’ll share why I did it and the improvements I experienced.
The Link Between Recreational Drugs, Alcohol, and Bruxism
While recreational drug use and drinking might seem unrelated to oral health, several studies have suggested a connection.
The exact mechanisms are not entirely understood, but it’s believed that these substances can cause changes in the central nervous system and intensify neurotransmission, leading to muscular hyperactivity, including in the jaw muscles. This increased activity can result in grinding or clenching of the teeth, contributing to bruxism.
Moreover, drugs and alcohol can interfere with the quality of sleep. They disrupt the natural sleep architecture, preventing us from achieving deep, restful phases of sleep. This can increase the occurrence of sleep bruxism, furthering the damage to our teeth.
Recreational Drugs, Alcohol, and Teeth Shifting
Alcohol and drugs can also indirectly contribute to teeth shifting. These substances can lead to dehydration, which can result in dry mouth. A lack of saliva makes the mouth more susceptible to bacteria, gum disease, and tooth decay – all factors that can compromise the support structure of our teeth, leading to shifting.
Additionally, frequent drug and alcohol use can compromise our overall nutritional status, leading to deficiencies in vital minerals and vitamins necessary for maintaining the strength of our gums and teeth.
7. Quitting Cannabis for Decreased Anxiety and Teeth Grinding
Although recreational cannabis use is often seen as a stress reliever, for me, it seemed to increase my anxiety levels. So, I decided to quit. This, combined with other measures, led to a decrease in my teeth-grinding episodes and contributed to better oral health overall.
Recreational cannabis use has surged in popularity in recent years, and it’s often touted as a natural way to relieve stress and anxiety. However, the relationship between cannabis and anxiety is complex and, at times, contradictory. While short-term use can induce a feeling of relaxation and euphoria, prolonged and frequent use may potentially lead to increased anxiety.
The study “Cannabis Use and Prospective Long-Term Association with Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Studies” by Siqi Xue, M Ishrat Husain, Haoyu Zhao, and Arun V Ravindran  offers some interesting insights into this relationship.
The Study: An Overview
This study suggests that while cannabis might provide temporary relief from anxiety, it could potentially exacerbate anxiety symptoms over the long term.
Despite the reported calming effects of cannabis, the drug can have quite the opposite effect for some individuals. This is due to various factors, including individual variations in genetic susceptibility, the quantity and frequency of use, the strain of cannabis used (specifically, the THC to CBD ratio), and whether the user has a pre-existing psychiatric condition.
Moreover, frequent and prolonged cannabis use can lead to Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD), which can further contribute to the development or worsening of anxiety symptoms.
My Personal Journey with Quitting Cannabis
In my personal experience, I found that quitting cannabis had a positive impact on my mental health. Even though I initially used cannabis as a way to relieve stress, I realized over time that it was potentially contributing to my anxiety rather than alleviating it.
Once I decided to quit, I noticed an improvement in my overall anxiety levels. This, in turn, positively affected my bruxism as the reduction in my anxiety levels led to fewer episodes of nighttime teeth grinding.
While it may seem counterintuitive, especially considering the reputation cannabis has as a relaxant, I found that leaving it behind was an integral part of my journey toward better oral health and well-being.
Ultimately, while the decision to use cannabis is a personal one, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential long-term effects and make informed choices. If you or someone you know is struggling with cannabis use and anxiety, consider seeking help from a healthcare professional who can provide guidance based on your unique situation.
8. A Balanced Whole Food Diet
I cannot stress enough the role of a healthy diet in overcoming bruxism and preventing teeth shifting. I swapped my poor diet with a balanced whole food diet, rich in minerals, vitamins, and other essential nutrients. This helped replenish my body with the necessary resources to maintain optimal functioning, including that of the jaw and teeth.
9. The Importance of Sleep Optimization
Now, on to the key area that I focused on – sleep optimization. This involved several tweaks to my lifestyle, all aiming to ensure sound sleep, which is critical in managing bruxism.
I began by adjusting the temperature of my sleeping environment and using cooling sheets. Research suggests that cooler environments promote better sleep. Additionally, I made sure I got enough sun exposure during the day, and used smart lighting and warm-colored bulbs in the evening to support my circadian rhythm.
I also decided to limit my exposure to electronics before bed, another crucial aspect of sleep hygiene. I tackled my anxiety issues with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), an effective approach to managing stress and anxiety, which are common triggers of bruxism.
The use of a sauna, although might seem unusual, proved to be another excellent tool for promoting relaxation and, in turn, better sleep. I also made sure to stay hydrated and quit caffeine, which is known to deplete vitamins and minerals and cause stress to the adrenal glands, further impacting sleep quality.
10. Nail Biting and Caffeine: Quitting Bad Habits
Lastly, I tackled my habit of biting my nails. This was e adding unnecessary stress to my jaw and teeth and possibly exacerbating my problems.
Today, months after I stopped wearing my Invisalign retainer, my teeth haven’t shifted the slightest, and my bruxism is under control. Each change, each step that I took, played a significant role in this transformation. And I believe that if I could do it, so can you. The journey may not be the same, but with patience and consistent efforts, overcoming bruxism and teeth shifting is possible.
So, that’s my story, my journey towards better oral health. I hope it inspires you to take the steps needed to overcome your battles, no matter how big or small they might be.
- “A pilot study on magnesium intake and sleep quality: effects on the sympathetic nervous system activity and phasic events during sleep.” (Frandsen NJ, Winther G, Bonn SE, et al. Magnes Res. 2020)Cannabis Use and Prospective Long-Term Association with Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Studies: Usage du cannabis et association prospective à long terme avec l’anxiété: une revue systématique et une méta-analyse d’études longitudinally
- “Nasal Breathing Exercise and its effect on symptoms of Sleep Apnea” (Haba-Rubio J, Andries D, Rey V, et al. Sleep Breath. 2005)
- “Masticatory muscle activity during maximum voluntary clench in different research diagnostic criteria for temporomandibular disorders (RDC/TMD) groups.” (Palinkas M, Nassar MS, Cecílio FA, et al. Man Ther. 2010)
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- “Cannabis Use and Risk of Prescription Opioid Use Disorder in the United States.” (Olfson M, Wall MM, Liu SM, Blanco C. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2018)
- “Association between dietary nutrient intake and sleep-disordered breathing in older men.” (Ikonte CJ, Mun JG, Reider CA, Grant RW, Mitmesser SH. Nutrients. 2019)
- “The effects of improving sleep on mental health (OASIS): a randomised controlled trial with mediation analysis.” (Freeman D, Sheaves B, Goodwin GM, et al. Lancet Psychiatry. 2017)
- “Nail Biting and Oral Health of Children 5-17 Years Old in Tehran.” (Shahrabi M, Nikfarjam J, Alikhani MY, et al. Iranian Journal of Pediatrics. 2011)